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Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball to Face Clayton State in First Round of NCAA Division 2 Tournament

The Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball team won the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Title on Sunday, and as a result, the Bears get the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Division 2 tournament. The Bears are the number four seed in the Southeast Region, and will face the number five seed in Clayton State. That contest will happen on Friday at 7pm at Goodman Gymnasium on the campus of Catawba College. Catawba is the number one seed in the tournament and serves as the region host site.

Clayton State, members of the Peach Belt Conference, will enter with a record of 18-11 overall. They finished tied for second with USC-Aiken in the Peach Belt Conference standings, but lost to Young Harris, a 15-14 team, in the semifinals of the conference tournament. That being said, the Lakers have had some huge games this season. They have played five times against a team that was nationally ranked at the time of those contests. They lost to then ninth ranked Carson-Newman by eight in mid-November and almost one month later, fell to then 9th ranked Tampa by nine. In mid-January, the Lakers lost to then 15th ranked North Georgia by nine in conference play. However, on February 1st, the Lakers upset 10th ranked Georgia Southwestern 64-62. In the rematch of that conference contest later in February on the road, Clayton State beat Georgia Southwestern again, this time the 19th ranked team, by one point, 61-60. The Lakers are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

The Bears and Lakers have matched up nine times, with Clayton State holding a 6-3 advantage. The last time these two squads played where in 2014. The Bears are in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history but the Bears will be looking for just their second all-time NCAA Tournament win. The only LR win in the Big Dance came in 2009 when the Bears took down now conference opponent Anderson.

These two programs have had seven common opponents this season: Anderson, Virginia-Wise, Carson-Newman, Lincoln Memorial, Limestone, USC-Aiken, Young Harris and Lander. Against those opponents this season, The Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne went 8-3. Clayton State went 4-8. Looking a bit deeper at the Young Harris contests, the Bears faceed Young Harris on December 3rd, winning 80-40 on the road and winning on New Year’s Day, 74-57 at home. The Lakers faced Young Harris three times, twice in the regular season and in the Peach Belt Tournament semifinals. Three days after the Bears beat Young Harris, they fell to Clayton State, 69-66 in a home game for the Lakers. But on the road February 4th, Clayton State lost 68-56. On Thursday, Clayton State was eliminated in the semifinals 72-55 by Young Harris.

The winner will advance to the regional semifinals Saturday night and face the winner of the Catawba/UNC-Pembroke matchup. Catawba is the number 1 seed and UNC-Pemborke is the number eight seed.